KUAD: Kansas hosts Texas Pregame Notes
The squad’s upperclassmen led a players-only meeting Wednesday in the players’ locker room in Allen Fieldhouse.
“We talked a lot about stuff, how we should change our attitudes and stuff,” KU freshman forward Carlton Bragg said Thursday. “They got really deep,” Bragg said of unnamed veteran players.
…KU junior Brannen Greene (knee bruise) practiced on Thursday and though coach Bill Self said he wasn’t 100 percent yet, he should be ready by Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game against (12-6, 4-2) Texas. KU will enter 15-3, 4-2.
Asked if freshman forward Cheick Diallo would make his second straight start, Self said: “Probably. We’ll see how practice goes. He did OK (vs. Oklahoma State). I don’t think it was a marquee-type performance but I don’t think you could say that about anybody on our team.”
Self believes he understands his players better after talking through some of their issues Tuesday. The coach sensed his team might be worrying too much about outside factors, which included the pressure of winning the Big 12.
“Somebody texted me, ‘Hey, your guys act like they don't care.’ That's the biggest crock of bull ever. They care a lot,” Self said. “But I think sometimes stress and things like that probably keep you from probably being the way that you want to be all the time.”
Self admits this team will never be the most emotional team he’s had. He jokes that point guard Frank Mason is so mellow that teammates sometimes have to wake him up on the bench before player introductions. Perry Ellis is an All-Big 12-type player, but by now, the coaching staff understands he’ll never be a fiery leader because that’s not his personality.
Those examples don’t mean KU always has to play without emotion. Guards Wayne Selden and Devonte’ Graham have charged up the team emotionally at times, though neither has been able to lift KU to its magical level lately.
“When we are that way, which we have been that way, it's amazing how it picks everybody else up,” Self said. “It's contagious.”
Bill Self, the coach of the country’s No. 3-ranked college basketball team, is not ready to panic after two losses in the last three Big 12 games — both setbacks on the road.
“What we need to do is we need to have some good things happen,” Self, Kansas University’s 13th-year coach, said Wednesday on his “Hawk Talk” radio show. “But we need to remember who we are and we’ve got a darn good team and good players and certainly there’s so much to play for.
“But sometimes one loss around this place (KU) seems like three or four or five at other places. That’s not the way it is. It’s too long a season to be totally worried about what potentially could happen. We are going through the same things that every team in the country is going through,” Self added.
Here is the thing about Kansas guard Frank Mason. His head coach says he is healthy. Mason insists he is, too.
If there is something bothering the slumping Mason, Kansas coach Bill Self says, it is probably limited to basic soreness or fatigue. But Self knows better than anyone: If there was some ailment or injury hampering Mason’s play, he’d probably never hear about it anyway.
“I would hope that he would (tell me),” Self said Thursday. “But the reality is that he wouldn’t.”
Mason’s health has been a prime KU talking point in recent days, as coach and players re-evalulate themselves following a January lull. The Jayhawks, 15-3 and 4-2 in the Big 12, are coming off a 86-67 loss at Oklahoma State on Tuesday. Mason has been a shell of his usual productive self during a three-game swoon. The two issues appear, you know, connected.
No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks
Loss: Tuesday at Oklahoma State
Next: Saturday against Texas (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The biggest factor in Kansas' early success, in the improvement by an already good -- and largely intact -- 2014-15 team, was improved guard play. Frank Mason III was better than ever, but it went deeper: By adding a second point guard (Devonte' Graham) to the lineup, Kansas coach Bill Self improved his team's ballhandling and perimeter shooting and unlocked forward Wayne Selden Jr.'s talent, all in one fell swoop. It's fitting, then, that as the Jayhawks have struggled in recent weeks, Self has pinned a fair share of the fault on his backcourt. They will all have to be ready to go on Saturday. An Allen Fieldhouse tilt with Texas might look straightforward on paper, but the Longhorns are coming off a road win at West Virginia, and their biggest contributors -- namely Isaiah Taylor -- are, you guessed it, guards
Nobody gives out NCAA Tournament bids seven and a half weeks away from Selection Sunday, but the work the Longhorns have done up to this point is mighty impressive.
Texas' upset over No. 6 West Virginia on Wednesday in Morgantown is the type of win that jumps off the page if you're a potential at-large team and that triumph joins a deep list of impressive victories that the Longhorns already possess.
Shaka Smart's team has also won at Stanford and beaten both North Carolina and Iowa State in Austin. That's four victories that will resonate deeply with the selection committee in March as long as Texas has a respectable record the rest of the way in Big 12 play.
The Longhorns were 9-6 a few weeks ago following a loss at TCU and heading into bulk of their league slate without starting center Cameron Ridley (12.7 points, 10.0 rebounds), who is likely out until March with a foot injury.
Now this team has major air in its tires heading into Saturday's showdown with Kansas at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
NCAA.com VIDEO: The No. 1 pregame tradition is “Confetti in Kansas.”
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Big 12/College News
Iowa State students camping outside Hilton Coliseum to get great seats for Monday’s basketball game against Kansas had a scary wake-up call Friday morning.
The students in line were woken around 3 a.m. Friday morning when a witness says two big tents, with tarps around them, caught fire.
“Basically, this morning, I woke up to the smell of smoke,” said Josiah O’Polka, a sophomore at Iowa State University. “I peeked my head out and there flames.”
Witnesses say that a propane heater inside of the tent started a fire. No was hurt and the students were able get out before it completely went up in flames.
Home-court advantage is important in college basketball - even though it may be at an all-time low - but too often it gets ignored. I suspect we have the RPI to blame for this. The RPI doesn’t include venue in its strength of schedule calculation, and more profoundly, encourages users to look at a team’s record against say, the top 50 teams, without considering where those games were played. (Before I go any further, I have to say I don’t mind the RPI in general. It’s not a bad formula considering its origins and the history behind it is kind of endearing.)
In the spirit of home-court advantage awareness I’ve gone ahead and added additional information to the schedule page. In a fair world, when people talk about top 50 wins they should be accounting for where the game is played. And so I’ve added a notation for whether a game was Tier A or Tier B to each game on a team’s schedule. A game in Tier A represents a top 50 opponent adjusting for the location of the game, and Tier B is the same concept for a top 100 opponent. This is similar to what already exists on the player pages.
It turns out those adjustments are important. Beating the 90th-ranked team on the road is about as difficult as beating the 50th-best team on a neutral floor, which is roughly as difficult as beating the 20th-best team on one’s home floor. (The exact relationship can vary by season.) So it’s poor form to ignore this when some teams in college never go on the road in non-conference and others rarely get to play a non-conference game at home.
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
KU recruiting target DeAndre Ayton and his Phoenix Hillcrest Academy squad will meet Sunrise Christian at 7 p.m., Saturday, at Free State High. Ayton, a 6-11, 225-pound junior, is ranked No. 4 in the recruiting Class of 2017 by Rivals.com. Ayton is originally from the Bahamas as is KU red-shirt forward Dwight Coleby. Ayton will attend the KU-Texas game Saturday on an unofficial recruiting visit. Also in the stands will be Josh Jackson, No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, who will be in town on an official recruiting trip. Jackson is a 6-7 senior guard from Prolific Prep in Napa, California.
When the McDonald’s All-Americans were announced on Sunday, not a lot of basketball fans from Dallas and Houston were surprised that those cities would be represented in Chicago. In fact, Corbett Smith of the Dallas Morning News pointed out that this will be the seventh straight year that the national showcase features a boy from the Dallas area.
The Austin area, on the other hand, has not been known for producing All-Americans. St. Stephen’s senior center Jarrett Allen, who will play on the West team in the boys game, is only the fifth Austin-area product to earn an invitation to a game that first tipped off in 1978. The local basketball scene could, however, be set for a run of All-Americans.
DeSoto continues to roll on, improving to 23-1 and keeping its stranglehold on the top spot in SportsDay's area Class 6A rankings with a comfortable 68-33 win over Midlothian on Tuesday night.
Another District 8-6A win wasn't the only highlight, however.
Sitting front row-center during the game was Naismith Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski and other members of his Duke staff, watching DeSoto senior Marques Bolden.
Bolden is one of the most sought-after players in the country right now, one of a handful of five-star prospects from the Class of 2016 that has neither pledged or signed with a school. While Duke is among the leaders for the 6-11 Bolden, other marquee programs such as Kentucky and Kansas are among his suitors. Big 12 programs Oklahoma and TCU are also in the mix.
This isn't the first time Krzyzewski has made his way to south Dallas County. He successfully recruited DeSoto off-guard Matt Jones in 2013; Jones is now a captain for the Blue Devils. He also recruited Lancaster guard Thomas Hill, a starter from 1990-93, some of Krzyzewski's best teams.
Bolden didn't disappoint his potential future head coach, leading all scorers with 17 points.
Any dissection of Azubuike’s interior repertoire glosses over the reality that, against most of the college teams he faces, Azubuike probably won’t face much resistance sealing his man under the basket and exploding to the rim for an easy finish. Doubts over the long-term viability of Azubuike’s game may intensify if he doesn’t show improvement in the coming year (particularly in an era when building a solvent offense around traditional post play seems a dubious proposition), but Azubuike is still learning how to play, and McLaughlin’s description of him as someone who “just kept working” to reach this point is encouraging for his development. To wit: Azubuike made strides defending in space, according to Georgia Stars coach William Steele, after losing weight last year.
For now, the questions over what Azubuike can do to get better can be shelved in favor of a discussion over what Azubuike is as a high school senior, and how he’ll help the school of his choice when he arrives on campus this fall.
One of the first items on Maker’s agenda is taking the SAT on Jan. 23, after which he’ll have more time to devote attention toward recruiting.
The six schools in contention, he said, are St. John’s, Indiana, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Kansas and UNLV. Though he has yet to take an official visit, Maker said that out of those six, there’s “definitely” a chance that he will see Arizona State, Kansas and Notre Dame. He said he has not determined where he will elect to take his other two official visits, but he does plan to use them.
…He said he plans to make his decision in April.
…Kansas: “They’re a big high-low team, and they like using their bigs on the high-lows on the pick-and-pops, pick-and-rolls into the elbow spots.” He added, “And also their guards can shoot, so that really leaves the bigs on an island to go to work, and it opens a lot of space.”
…The Maker hype train has long since gone off the rails, and many observers may never be able to separate him from the rush of hyperbole that attended his rise to prominence. But between now and the fall, Maker is simply undergoing a process similar to other recruits in his class: preparing for college.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube